Mike Savage is Head of Department and Chair of Sociology at the London School of Economics. Previously, he was Head of the Sociology Department at Manchester University (1999-2001) and founding Director of CRESC – the ESRC Centre for Research on Socio-Cultural Change (2004-2010).
His first book, The Dynamics of Working Class Politics (Cambridge University Press, 1987), was a study of popular mobilisation in Preston in the North West of England. The overlaps and intersections between class and gender inequality is a longstanding interest for Savage, and a study of changing career pathways in banks, nursing, and local authority employment led to his Gender, Careers and Organisations (with Susan Halford and Anne Witz) in 1997. This was followed by a manifesto arguing for the need for a more culturally sensitive and historically attuned approach to social stratification in Class Analysis and Social Transformation (Open University Press, 2000).
Over the past ten years, Savage has become pre-occupied with developing methods which allow us to better do justice to the cultural dimensions of social life. He is associated with the resurgence of the sociology of class and culture over the past decade, and with Tony Bennett, Elizabeth Silva and Alan Warde directed the most comprehensive study of cultural capital and taste ever conducted in the UK, which was published in 2008 as Culture, Class, Distinction (Routledge). He is especially interested in how the privileged identify themselves and legitimate their social advantages, and hence how freely chosen lifestyles are marked with the imprint of class. His book Globalisation and Belonging (with Gaynor Bagnall and Brian Longhurst, Sage, 2005), a study of middle class residents of Manchester in NE England argued that we can identify ‘the spatialisation of class’, whereby belonging to place becomes a more salient signifier of social position. Savage’s work (with Fiona Devine) for the BBC on their Great British Class Survey produced the largest survey of class ever conducted in the UK, with 161,000 responses to their web survey.
Savage has been a senior Fulbright Scholar at Chapel Hill and a visiting Professor at Sciences-Po in France, and at Bergen in Norway. His research has been funded by the Economic and Social Research Council; the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council; the European Union; the Equality and Human Rights Commission; and the Leverhulme Trust. He was editor of The Sociological Review (2001-2007), and was elected an Academician of the Social Sciences in 2003 and Fellow of the British Academy in 2007.